JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
John Everson, author of Sacrifice
Ariana is on a killing spree. Dressed in a black vinyl catsuit, she lures men to hotel rooms, where they will leave their bodies behind-in multiple pieces. Through ritual sexual sacrifice, she aims to open the door between this world and the domain of the powerful, but violently perverse Curburide demons. She will be their queen, and they will rape the world.
Joe Kieran is a young reporter who has just left the East Coast port town of Terrel with a demon on his back. Literally. When Joe picks up Alex, a teen hitchhiker on her way to the Rocky Mountains, he soon finds that he’s been setup by the demon, Malachai.
Alex is more than just a perky runaway; she has the ability to talk to ghosts, something her right-wing parents forced her to hide. But now she will need that talent more than ever; as Malachai sets them all on the path that can only lead to… Sacrifice.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write Sacrifice?
John Everson: I started Sacrifice three years after finishing my first occult horror novel, Covenant. At the time, I still hadn’t sold Covenant and didn’t know if I ever would. Writing a sequel was a bit of a risky move, yet I really wanted to put two of the main characters in that first novel on a completely different adventure.
I intentionally structured Sacrifice to be able to stand on its own. I figured there was a good chance that Covenant might never appear but perhaps this new book would. That’s a long introduction to answering your question, but it’s important. I already had the back story established for Sacrifice with the lead character of Joe, a former Chicago reporter, and Malachai, the demon that is symbiotically tied to him.
In the first novel, part of Malachai’s history was that he had been brought to our world to protect us from a horde of succubic demons called the Curburide. For Sacrifice, I thought what if, now that Joe and Malachai are partnered, they have to face the Curburide together? That was my ideological jump off point.
My “inspiration” came from National Novel Writing Month, held every November. When I started Sacrifice at the end of 2003, it had been a long time since I’d finished my first book. I kept waiting to sell Covenant before moving on. I decided that I’d use NaNoWriMo (as it’s abbreviated) to force me to dive into a second novel full force. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month.
I was actually at a business conference for the first week of that month, so I did 50,000 words of Sacrifice in three weeks. Then, I was sick for the next month from burning the candle at both ends! I didn’t sit down to finish the book until almost two years later, after Covenant was published in the small press by Delirium Books and won the Bram Stoker Award for a first horror novel.
It would ultimately be a couple years after that, once I’d sold both Covenant and Sacrifice to Leisure Books for mass market release, when I sat down and began my third novel (unrelated to the first two) called The 13th.
JP: What sets Sacrifice apart from other novels in its genre?
JE: There is a lot of focus these days on zombie and vampire novels, and Sacrifice instead delves into the unseen – the demonic. I don’t think there’s a lot of demon horror out there right now, so I think it stands on its own there.
While it does include a serial killer (another overused horror villain), she is a different sort: she’s sacrificing people using her sexual wiles as bait and then using their deaths to complete a chain of sacrifices that will set free the Curburide demons. Not your normal serial killer gambit. I tried to write a really fast-paced book, with plenty of action and blood and a good titillation factor.
JP: As an author, what are the keys to your success that lead to Sacrifice getting out to the public?
JE: Perserverance is the biggest key I suppose. I first began trying to sell Covenant, the prequel, when I finished it in 2000. The initial version was rejected at all the major houses that published horror. After a couple years, I sat down and did a substantial rewrite on the book and shopped it again, also to deaf ears. Then I started writing Sacrifice.
In the meantime, I sold Covenant to Delirium Books, the small press that had issued my first short story collection in 2000. Covenant ultimately came out in hardcover at the end of 2004, and Delirium would go on to issue Sacrifice in 2007. It was a couple months after Sacrifice appeared in hardcover that I sold both books to Leisure for a paperback release. I’d been pitching those novels and some other ideas to Leisure’s editor, Don D’Auria, for seven years at that point.
So I’d say sticking around, finding a way to get the books out on a legitimate small press and still consistently shopping them to mass market were my keys to ultimately seeing those novels through to shelf space in Barnes & Noble and Borders!
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish Sacrifice?
JE: I do a lot of my writing in bars. There’s nothing like a comfortable booth away from the distractions of home to work in, especially if the atmosphere is right, the DJ’s sharp and the waitress brings you Newcastle regularly. When I’m working on a project, I tend to spend one weeknight a week working for 3-4 hours in my local haunt and one weekend afternoon holed up in my basement writing. Sometimes, I’ll do some early morning work in my office as well.
I’m a former journalist, so I live by deadlines. Without a deadline, I’m a horrible procrastinator. That’s why I love short stories: you can decide to write one of those and knock out a pretty solid draft in an afternoon and you’re done. With a novel, it’s a much deeper, longer commitment. Thus, it takes a lot more discipline.
The first book, from start to finished, final draft was probably 7 or 8 years. I didn’t have a deal for it, so I put it aside a lot. Sacrifice, as I mentioned before, was half-written in three weeks. Then a couple years later, I sat down over two months and finished it.
My third book, The 13th, took me about 9 months to write in 2008. I made sure that I finished that novel within a year because I had a contract for it. Likewise with my fourth book Siren, which I’m working on now, I started it in February and set a weekly word count this time around to force myself into deadline mode so that I could have a rough draft of it done in three months.
‘m a couple weeks from finishing it at the time I wrote the interview answers. When I’m finished, I’ll set it aside for a few weeks and come back to edit and polish it with a fresh eye over the summer. That’s a long way to say I’ve done each book a bit differently. If I know a book has a home, I’ll dig in and get the work done a lot faster!
JP: What’s next for John Everson?
JE: My third novel, The 13th (about a mysterious “asylum” for pregnant women… or is it?) will be out in hardcover in the small press from Necro Publications in May. Leisure will issue it in paperback just in time for Halloween, so I’ve got two mass market releases happening this year. It’s pretty exciting! Consequently, I’m pretty busy.
I’ll be doing a bookstore tour that hits a couple dozen stores in my home Chicago area as well as in St. Louis, Springfield, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville, San Diego, Los Angeles and Atlanta over the next three months. The tour “itinerary” is on my website.
Then later this summer, I’ll finish up work on my fourth novel, Siren, before hitting the road again in the fall to promote The 13th. In the midst of all that, I’ll also be designing the fifth book to be released by my own small press, Dark Arts Books. We issue one four-author sampler anthology each year. This year’s edition, Mighty Unclean, will debut at the Bram Stoker Awards Weekend in Los Angeles in June. It features Gary Braunbeck, Mort Castle, Gemma Files and Cody Goodfellow. For info, check www.darkartsbooks.com.
After all that… I’m taking a vacation!
Thanks for giving me the 20-questions treatment (alright, five!)
Leisure Books – http://dorchesterpub.com/
Necro Publications – http://necropublications.com/
Delirium Books – http://deliriumbooks.com/
Dark Arts Books – http://www.darkartsbooks.com/
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